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Two Crew Injured and One Possibly Kidnapped From Gabon Anchorage

supply vessel boarded off Gabon two crew injured and one missing
The boarding took place off Libreville, Gabon (file photo)

Published Sep 6, 2021 2:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

The joint French and British reporting center monitoring activity in the Gulf of Guinea is confirming reports of a serious incident over the weekend in Gabon which left two crew members injured. Security services are reporting that a third crew member might have been kidnapped. The assault comes after an apparent lull in serious incidents recently in the Gulf of Guinea region.

The Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG), a cooperation center operated since 2016 by the UK Royal Navy and the French Navy, issued an advisory saying that early on September 5 armed intruders boarded a vessel in the anchorage at Libreville, Gabon. They are reporting that two crew members were injured but said that the Gabon authorities have secured the vessel and the center considered the incident closed.

International security analysts, however, are reporting that they believe a third crew member is missing and “is presumed to have been kidnapped,” writes Dryad Global.

The incident took place aboard the 4,300 dwt platform supply vessel Tampen. Built in 2006 by the Kleven Yard, the vessel was operated by Bourbon in West Africa and was the first offshore vessel with azipull propellers. Bourbon sold the vessel and in March 2021 it came under the management of a firm based in India.

Dryad reports that three armed boarders came aboard the vessel early on Sunday morning and there apparently was a fight with the crew attempting to stop the boarding. Two crew members were injured and taken ashore to a hospital with at least one of them having sustained a gunshot wound. 

“If confirmed, this incident would be the second incident within Gabonese waters within 2021 and the first reported kidnapping,” writes Dryad highlighting the significant decline in kidnapping in the region in 2021. “Region wide this latest incident would be the first offshore kidnapping incident reported throughout the wider region since May 31, 2021.”

While infrequent, there have been previous kidnappings offshore near both Libreville and Port-Gentil reports Dryad. “Between March and May 2020, there were three vessels boarded within Gabonese waters resulting in the kidnap of 16 personnel.”

Last week, MDAT-GoG had issued its monthly update for the broader region reporting that there had only been two reported incidents in August. One was a failed attack on an oil platform off Nigeria where the crew was able to prevent a boarding although gunshots were reported. The other was a robbery off Conakry, Guinea. Additionally, in July there was a report of one robbery and one theft, and two irregular sightings that did not result in an attack or attempted boarding. In June, there were also two failed attempts at boarding vessels.

Recently, there have been reports that Gabon and Nigeria would be increasing efforts to work together on maritime security in the region. Earlier this year Nigeria launched a new security program known as Deep Blue designed to provide greater security for ships and oil installations as well as prevention efforts onshore.